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2013 Fall TV Preview: The Returning Shows On Cable & Premium

September 3rd, 2013 8:30pm EDT

The Walking Dead The fall television season for cable begins tonight, actually. Luther's four night run premieres at 10PM on BBC America. There are plenty of options for primetime entertainment until Christmas, including reality television, which I do not preview.

ADULT SWIM
CHINA, IL returns Sunday, September 22 at 11:30PM

THE HEART, SHE HOLLER returns Wednesday, September 11 at 12:15AM

AMC
THE WALKING DEAD returns Sunday, October 13 at 9PM (and TALKING DEAD returns the same night at 11PM, which is then followed by Kevin Smith's Comic Book Men at 11:30pm)

The Walking Dead's third season received tremendous hype. Anticipation about the governor, Michonne, and the prison was fever pitch. Glen Mazarra was supported by fans and critics. Both felt he knew what went wrong under Daranbont. Mazarra left the series after finishing post on season three. Scott Gimple replaced him as show-runner. Critics pointed to episodes he'd written as a sign he'd continue to steer the show in a good direction. We're the outsiders though. Credits are just credits. Many show runners don't like to jump someone's credit. TV writing's entirely collaborative. What matters more than individual scripts is the Idea and the execution of it, of mapping and arcing a season. Darabont and Mazarre couldn't figure out how to sustain 13 episodes of The Walking Dead. Season 3 concluded weakly. Season 4 previews promise more action, more zombies, confrontations, new characters, and it looks like fun. Season 3 looked fun, and was fun, until the second half hit a wall. I'd like for writers to break a show and write it like they'll never get to tell stories again. The Walking Dead needs to put together a whole season.

I'm really looking forward to Larry Gilliard Jr.'s role this season.

BBC AMERICA
LUTHER returns Tuesday, September 3 at 10PM

Idris Elba doesn't want series three to be the end of Luther. A fourth series (season) and a film is a possibility. Elba's gotten into major motion pictures, but he excels on TV. He's limited in movies. He's good in Prometheus and Pacific Rim. He's just there, in a odd costume, in Thor. In The Wire, he dominated the screen as Stringer; he dominates it more as Luther. Luther runs for four consecutive nights--the 3rd through the 6th.

DOCTOR WHO returns Saturday, November 23 at 9PM

Pete Capaldi's the new doctor, replacing Matt Smith, for the newest season. Matt Smith promised fans they'd forget about him as the doctor. Fans adored Matt Smith. I'm ignorant of all-things-Doctor-Who, but I'll talk to you endlessly about the six seasons of Dawson's Creek. So, there's that.

RIPPER STREET returns Sunday, December 1 at 10PM

BBC America's enjoying a great period of success and critical acclaim. Ripper Street's part of the reason BBC America's recent success. The eight episode second season premiered in January in the United Kingdom and should fit well in the winter here in the U.S.A. where it can be dreary and depressing like the streets of 19th century England.

COMEDY CENTRAL
TOSH.0 returns Tuesday, September 3 at 10PM

BRICKLBERRY returns Tuesday, September 3 at 10:30PM

I may appreciate Brickleberry's comedy after camping in Yosemite National Park for a night in mid-August. Chances are slim I'll actually watch an episode. The amount of content available to consume and watch is overwhelming. In the premiere, Woody becomes an evangelist. Okay, I might watch that.

KEY & PEELE returns Wednesday, September 18 at 10:30PM

Let me turn it towards Key & Peele fans in an attempt to open up an interaction with potential commenters. Please link seven of the best Key & Peele sketches. I'd like to watch Key & Peele.

SOUTH PARK returns Wednesday, September 25 at 10PM

Trey Parker and Matt Stone changed it up in their 17th year of writing, producing, directing and voicing South Park. South Park's season won't be split between the spring and the fall. Instead, Trey and Matt will produce 10 episodes every fall. South Park's still going strong nearly two decades later.

ESPN
30 FOR 30 returns Tuesday, October 1 at 8PM

The new documentaries for 30 for 30 cover the NBA and ABA merger, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan rivalry, and the New York Islanders. Kevin Connolly ('E' from Entourage) directed the Islanders documentary. The new documentaries also cover the career of Jimmy Connors, Sugar Ray Leonard's bouts with Robert Duran, and big wave surfer Eddie Aikau (I heard about him from The Rock, on TNT's The Hero).

FX
SONS OF ANARCHY returns Tuesday, September 10 at 10PM

FXX
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA returns Wednesday, September 4 at 10PM

It's Always Sunny moves to its shiny new network and to a shiny new night. The Paddy's gang will compete with South Park sooner than later. The promos for the new season reveal nothing about what to expect. The promos have used a French expressionistic style, which does not work for the show. Experimentation is cool though.

THE LEAGUE returns Wednesday, September 4 at 10:30PM

TOTALLY BIASED WITH W. KAMAU BELL returns Wednesday, September 4

HBO
BOARDWALK EMPIRE returns Sunday, September 8 at 9PM on HBO

EASTBOUND & DOWN returns Sunday, September 29 at 10PM

The multi-twist conclusion to season three lost me as it happened. Fake-deaths rarely work in the long term in any narrative medium. Writers have to do the leg work to restore the familiar formula. Kenny's family and friends (only Stevie actually) will learn the truth. The watchability of the season will be decided after the truth comes out. I'm intensely disinterested in watching fake-death fallout. Aside from that potential weakness, I get a kick out of the series. Danny McBride's great as foul-mouthed Kenny Powers. HBO's said season four is the last. I figure Kenny's going to get his happy ending, right? But it's totally possible Kenny will not get his happy ending and that the lasting message from the series is about how people don't change.

TREME returns Sunday, December 1 at 9PM

HBO gave David Simon and Eric Overmyer a lump sum to make a final season. Simon and Overmyer were able to stretch the money out over five final episodes. I like Treme as much, or maybe even more, than The Wire. Last season was excellent. I think the familiarity with the characters, the town, et al, is why season three stood out and joined the ranks of the best single seasons of television. Treme can be sad, joyful, mournful, rhasphodic. It focuses on people doing the best with what they can on a day-to-day basis, finding joy admist their sadness and struggles in music, art, dance, cooking, or any kind of creation. Time will tell whether Treme has the success of The Wire after its finale. I'd doubt it. Too many folk made up their minds about Treme. If you give this show a chance, you'll be rewarded. I'll be sad to say goodbye.

PBS
FOYLE'S WAR returns Sunday, September 15 at 9PM

Foyle's War is a returning series? Really? British writers seemingly create every detective or thriller series as a perioid piece set in in the war era or post-war era.

FRONTLINE returns Tuesday, September 17 at 10PM

I'm not certain, but I think Frontline's airing the concussions documentary to launch the fall run. ESPN pulled out of the project after the NFL pressured the company to--these are the drawbacks of a business partnership with a league. ESPN reporters expressed disappointment in the decision. ESPN doesn't want to cause harm to its very lucrative relationship with the NFL. The concussion is a problem a settlement won't erase. Former players will get the necessary medical benefits they need to help them maintain a healthy quality of life, but the season starts Thursday. Players will continue to get concussed. Players will continue playing days after the concussion. The documentary's sure to open even more eyes about the dangerous consequences of playing a game, but I'm interested in a solution. Any solution would be complicated to figure out without a massive change to the game and the business. It's messy.

SHOWTIME
HOMELAND returns Sunday, September 29 at 9PM

Critics and fans were typically more down on Homeland in its second season, but a decent final stretch seemed to save the show from a 'sophomore slump' distinction. Expect some aftermath from the terrorist attack on the intelligence apparatus. Carrie and Saul will find themselves swept up in a media firestorm, while Brody hides out in various Off-Broadway productions as an extra.

SYFY
HAVEN returns Friday, September 13 at 10PM

Haven's gotten a lot of mileage out of a short story collection. What's new for season 4? Colin Ferguson's joined the cast. He starred as the sheriff in Eureka. Audrey disappeared into the magic barn. Speculation abounds about what she'll be when she emerges from the barn. I listened to a Nerdist Writers Panel with the Jaws screenwriter. He said a story can do anything as long as it makes sense within that world. Walking into a magic barn to stop something catastrophic? Cool.

TNT
MAJOR CRIMES returns Monday, November 25 at 9PM

Major Crimes resumes its second season in late November. TNT renewed it from a third season.

USA
WHITE COLLAR returns Thursday, October 17 at 9PM

PSYCH returns Sunday, December 15 at 9PM

Tomorrow: the returning shows on The CW & CBS

Related: The Walking Dead, HBO, Showtime, USA, FX, AMC, Comedy Central, Syfy, PBS

Photo Credits: AMC; HBO

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